Errors That Kill Medical Patients. Reform aimed at preventing medical errors can succeed only if the medical profession gets behind changes that expert groups and plain common sense suggest.
Important because
44,000 to 98,000 patients die each year because of medical mistakes — more than are killed annually by automobile accidents.
Amazingly, though,
Less than a quarter of the doctors think it would be very effective to use computers instead of paper forms to order drugs or to include pharmacists on hospital rounds, two approaches that have been shown to reduce medication errors in hospitals.
Amazing at a personal level too. I’ve spent a lot of my spare time this year managing the managed care system — spending face time in hospitals where ailing parents were in the hands of very capable and committed health care professionals working with woefully inadequate systems. Case in point: mom turns out to be allergic to oxycodone; that gets noted in her chart; next hospital visit, they give her… oxycodone!… because no one reads the history? because it’s too hard to read? Case in point: one doctor puts her on new meds, other doctor puts her back on old meds… not because he’s reversing the decision, but because he didn’t even know about it, since there’s no system, process or mechanism that supports or encourges her five doctors to talk with each other.
This shouldn’t be hard: a modern information system, six sigma quality systems, and 10-fold reduction in this death rate within 10 years. Seems like a great business opportunity for somebody.


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